We use cookies to allow us and selected partners to improve your experience and our advertising. By continuing to browse you consent to our use of cookies. You can understand more and change your cookies preferences here.


When you click on a retailer link on our site, we may earn affiliate commission to help fund our not-for-profit mission.Find out more.

31 Jan 2022

Coronavirus travel insurance: who has the best 'Covid cover'?

Find out how the Omicron variant could affect your insurance

Fully vaccinated travellers will no longer need to take Covid tests before departing from or after arriving in the UK from Friday 11 February. But travel insurance remains as important as ever for pandemic-era travel.

Even with this rule relaxation, Covid-19 could still wreck your holiday plans, meaning you may need your insurer to step in to recover lost funds.

Here, Which? explores the kind of cover you'll need for any potential holiday, and the insurers that provide it.

Be more money savvy

Get a firmer grip on your finances with the expert tips in our Money newsletter – it's free weekly.

Email address (required)

This newsletter delivers free money-related content, along with other information about Which? Group products and services. Unsubscribe whenever you want. Your data will be processed in accordance with our Privacy policy

What does Omicron mean for insurance?

You'll need to check entry requirements for any country you're planning to visit. Some nations are specifically restricting travellers from the UK due to its high case numbers.

If you're now required to quarantine upon arrival, you likely won't be able to cancel and claim on your insurance, though you may be able to postpone your trip if your travel provider is flexible (see below).

With a high number of cases, you might be more likely to catch Covid yourself. This would require you to self-isolate and miss your holiday.

In either of these cases, there are some insurers who will consider cancellation claims. But not every insurer will, so check policy details carefully before you buy.

Will my holiday firm refund me?

Before you claim on your travel insurance, you'll first need to check if you can get a refund from your travel provider. Or, if you've booked the flights and accommodation yourself, you'll need to seek refunds from them before contacting your insurer.

Sadly, the pandemic has shown that not all holiday firms play by the rules when it comes to refunds.

Many firms have rapidly refunded customers for cancelled trips, but others have hung onto cash for months, and in some cases broken the law.

Nearly half of firms made our Green category for having rapid refunds and no-quibble cancellation policies. Among these were Which? Recommended Providers (WRPs) Jet2 Holidays, Kuoni and Hays.

Only a handful of companies made the Green+ list, including WRPs Explore and Exodus. To make this category, Green-rated firms also need to refund those unable to travel because NHS Test and Trace has told them to isolate.

As for the other firms we looked at, one in five were classed as Amber - for following legal obligations but nothing more - and three in ten were Red. Firms with this rating might stall or pass the buck on refunds, while others weren't transparent about their terms and conditions - a major problem for would-be travellers.

Which policies have the best coronavirus cover?

From possible new restrictions to getting sick, there are still dozens of ways the pandemic could wreck your holiday, even if you've been vaccinated.

Thankfully, there are some insurers who offer protection for all or many of these.

We reviewed hundreds of policies in 2021, sorting them into four categories based on the strength of their Covid cover. From weakest to strongest these are:

  • Basic For policies providing emergency medical cover and repatriation for coronavirus while you're away.
  • Low Insurance that covers unrecouped costs from cancelling your holiday if you're diagnosed with Covid-19.
  • Superior Policies that cover cancellation if you're told to self-isolate without testing positive yourself, for example if you receive a test and trace notification via the NHS app.
  • Complete Our highest rating. Complete policies cover you for cancellation if you can't travel due to changes in FCDO advice or because of a lockdown.

We know of just five policies that meet the criteria for our Complete rating. These are from Barclays, Churchill, Direct Line, HSBC and Nationwide.

You can read our Nationwide travel insurance review here. The policy is available as part of its FlexPlus packaged account, which costs £13 a month and comes with other benefits.

The Barclays Travel Pack add-on is for current account holders, and HSBC's Select and Cover is available to current account, savings account, mortgage and credit card customers.

You'd be eligible for HSBC's travel insurance if you opened an Online Bonus Saver account with a minimum of £1.

Direct Line Group, which also provides the Churchill and Nationwide policies, told Which? that its recent increase in cover was intended to 'give customers back their freedom' and support the travel industry's recovery.

All readers can find a breakdown of different policies' Covid cover levels on our best and worst travel insurance page. We've also given each of them a policy score, based on their wider cover, including for non-Covid related incidents. Which? members can log in to see these on the same page.

What should I look for when I'm buying travel insurance?

When searching for a policy, make sure you look for the following things:

  • Coronavirus medical and repatriation cover To cover you if you're infected when you're away.
  • Coronavirus cancellation cover You'll need this if you want to be able to claim on insurance for refunds if Covid stops you travelling for any reason. Our ratings will tell you how much Covid cover an insurer has.
  • Scheduled airline failure insurance (SAFI) To cover you if your airline goes bust.
  • Excesses This is what you'll pay towards what your insurer pays out. You'll need to be able to afford them if you're claiming.

Which? recommends getting the following levels of cover:

  • Emergency medical cover £5m worldwide
  • Cancellation, curtailment and missed departure £2,000 or the value of your holiday
  • Personal belongings and money £1,500
  • Personal liability £1m

Find out more:flight cancellations and compensation

How can I make a claim?

The pandemic has left thousands of holidaymakers out of pocket. If you had a trip booked that you now can't take, you might need to make a claim yourself.

Insurers will only pay out for costs that can't be refunded by travel or accommodation providers, so you should get in touch with them first. If you approach insurers with a claim before exploring the refund route, they will want you to do that before you can progress further.

Next, make a list of all the non-refundable costs you want to claim for. Not just hotels and flights, but transfers, tours and excursions.

After that, you're ready to contact your insurer. We've gathered the claims numbers for more than 40 travel insurance providers in the table below. Click the name of the insurer to see our review of its service and find more details about how to make a claim.

If we don't have a review, contact your insurer directly for more information.

Can I claim on insurance if I'm offered rebooking vouchers?

If you accept vouchers or refund credit notes (RCNs) as compensation, you can't claim for cash from your insurer as well, as this would be a double claim.

Legally, you should be able to reject vouchers and get cash refunds instead, but many holiday firms have ignored this rule.

Your insurer will likely advise you to pursue this legal right if you're in this situation. The ABI told us: 'Where travel operators have a legal obligation to refund customers, insurers expect them to honour that legal agreement. Insurance cancellation cover kicks in when no other safety net is available.'

After campaigning from Which?, the government confirmed that RCNs will be covered by the travel industry's Atol scheme. This means if you accept an RCN and your holiday provider goes bust, your money will be protected.

If you're not offered a cash refund by your travel operator, and you don't want to accept an RCN, Which? believes banks should refund customers under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, for purchases by credit card of more than £100, or through the chargeback scheme for other purchases.

Banks don't always accept these claims, but card issuer Mastercard has confirmed that chargeback is valid in these cases.

Find out more:claiming from your bank for coronavirus holiday and event cancellations

This story was originally published on 25 February 2020 and has been updated since then. The latest update was to reflect the changing rules and was published on 31 January 2022. Additional reporting by Dean Sobers.